AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tens of thousands of people are using personal mobile devices, such as cell phones or tablet computers, to connect to guarded U.S. Army networks and conduct official business.
Some 20,000 users have been approved for the service’s bring-your-own-device initiative after more than a year of brainstorming, piloting and cybersecurity checks, according to Lt. Gen. John Morrison, a top information technology official. Users include active-duty soldiers and civilians and members of the Army Reserve and National Guard.
“It’s more efficient, more effective, and, quite frankly, if you want to reach me on the weekend, call me on my personal device,” Morrison said Aug. 15 at the AFCEA TechNet Augusta conference in Georgia. “I don’t even worry about carrying two phones anymore, it’s so reliable.”
The embrace of BYOD comes as the Army pursues ubiquitous connectivity on and off the battlefield to ensure the right information gets to the right person at the right time. It also comes on the heels of a pandemic that forced millions into remote-working arrangements.
The Army’s venture relies on Halo, an application from small business Hypori. Through it, and after vetting, users can access the Army cloud and email, chat and other virtual workspace functions.
Personal possessions can pose information security risks; wearable tech like smart watches are often prohibited from sensitive government facilities. But with Hypori’s app, information isn’t stored on the device — it’s remotely beamed in — and doesn’t require root access.
“What we’re really seeing is the power of leveraging cloud-enabled capabilities to deliver services,” said Morrison, who at last year’s conference said the BYOD process is “very, very, very secure.” The Army considers widespread use of the cloud foundational to the broader modernization of its networks, computers and collaborative capabilities.
Kenneth McNeill, the National Guard’s chief information officer, previously told C4ISRNET using one’s own device provides increased flexibility and can improve critical response times.
“In a typical state, all of our guardsmen, unfortunately, they may not have government-furnished devices, mobile cell phones, iPads,” he said at the time. “I don’t think we’re going back to everyone in the office. I think this is the future of how we’re going to operate here in the government and in the Department of Defense.”
Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.